[Tokyo & Kyoto] Patisseries Pilgrimage

Hello everyone, it has been a bit quiet around here but if you have been following my Instagram account, you KNOW I was just on a 10-day gastronomic adventure around Tokyo and Kyoto! In particular I  embarked on an ambitious pastisserie-hop. Over the course of 10 days, I sought out and ate 16 pastries, 6 éclairs and 1 pancake – thank god for all the walking. Otherwise my waistline would have expanded till no other. 

Especially in Tokyo, world-renowned patisseries can be found EVERYWHERE and usually in Depachika, or food basements. I found the best Depachika to be located in the basement of Shibuya Hikarie. The world’s most famous Patisseries, Chocolatiers (like Pierre Marcolini and La Maison Du Chocolat) as well as Bakeries were all nicely collated in one basement. You must plan a trip to Shibuya and the said mall to check them out if you have an upcoming trip to Tokyo. One thing that got me massively jealous of these Patisseries were their offering of more than just macarons. One could find Pierre Hermé pastries; its legendary Tarts and Mille Feuille in a food basement!!! On the other hand, back in Singapore, we have to make do with Lauduree Macaroons. 😥 In addition, one of the best and probably most amazing aspect of the patisseries was the packaging. Every pastry was ALWAYS so beautiful boxed up complete with a dry-ice pack and cardboard stabiliser to ensure the delicate one didn’t get knocked around. Plastic forks taped into the box was also a norm. In fact when one asks for none of the accompaniments, usually a blank stare will be met. Just keep the forks. 

The patisseries I visited and ranked in accordance of preference were the following:

Pierre Hermé
Asterisque
Patisserie des Rêves
Henri Charpentier
Yoroizuka Farm
La Boutique de Joël Robuchon
Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki Paris
Hidemi Sugino
Shotani
Malebranche
L’Éclair de Génie

Read on for individual review of the sweets. Behold for an onslaught of photos and sweets.

Pierre Hermé
Location: boutique Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs, Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs B2F 2-21-1 Shibuya Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Pastry: Tarte Infiniment Vanille 

PH requires no introduction. Its macarons are said to be the best in the world but I had no time for them. Instead I had one item on my mind: Tarte Infiniment Vanille and it was worth the wait. The tart consisted of a shortbread crust with a very rich, dense filling of white chocolate ganache flavoured with vanilla and mascarpone cream, also flavoured with vanilla. A single flavour but in three distinct textures – vanilla orgasm! -Swoon- If like me, you love Vanilla, you will not get enough of this tart. To avoid a flavor-overdose, that perfectly crisp thick pastry shell will be there to aid you. What an exquisite piece of pastry that was executed perfectly. This was definitely the highlight of my trip. People, stop eating the flat-textured macarons and get yourself a pastry from PH! You will not regret the trouble to hunt it down.

Asterisque by Koichi Izumi アステリスク
Location: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Uehara 1-26-16 Tama Techno Building 1F (2-min walk from Yoyogi-Uehara Station) Tel: 03-6416-8080 営業時間:10:00~20:00 Hours: 10:00 to 20:00 定休日:月曜 Closed: Monday 
Pastries had: Yamabuki (¥540), Mont Blanc Kureme (¥550) モンブランクレメ, Mont Blanc Cassis Éclair, and Strawberries Tart

Chef Koichi Izumi is well known in Japan and represents the Japanese Salon du Chocolat. He has been awarded with numerous prizes and accolades, including the Entremet Chocolat semi-Grand Prix at the 2004 Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, and third place at the 2005 World Chocolate Masters and the World Pastry Championship team in 2006.  I first heard about Asterisque from Dairy & Cream and My Food Sirens. For the record, both are reliable sources of recommendations in Japan! I highly recommend scrolling through their blogs and Instagram feed for good food ideas.

My sole goal at Asterisque was to get that Mont Blanc parfait but it was a Summer item and they refused to make one for me despite my pleas that it was my birthday (not lying.) I was only met with firm “no”. Ouch! However as I was already there, my sweet tooth needed to be satiated so we had four pastries. All sublime!!!! My gf chose the Yamabuki: Milk chocolate orange mousse surrounded with crunchy nuts then topped with a thin crispy almond disk and lightly-whipped orange cream. We really really liked this! Normally I’m not a chocolate with fruits-girl but the orange flavor was so subtle and left a nice lingering flavour. Plus the textures were so beautifully contrasted. I got the Mont Blanc except the base was a pavlova and a damn good one! Wonderfully crisp to contrast with the soft chestnut mousse atop.

This tiny patisserie may only sit three tables but boasts the widest and most beautiful selection of pastries I have ever seen in my life! The best part was the lack of tourists. Throughout our 2 hours there, we only saw Japanese customers mainly taking away. Major envy! If only my neighbourhood also had such a fine patisserie too. It’s o.k. Dino is not a bad place. Anyway back to the visit, the service was A+++. When they found out it was my birthday, they specially decked out the Mont Blanc w Cassis eclair for me. A sweet birthday gift. This was a precious find and I still have fond memories of this place.

The Patisserie des Rêves デレーヴ 高台寺店
Location: Japan, 〒605-0072 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, 東山区高台寺北門前通下河原東入鷲尾町518
Pastry had: Paris-Brest (¥519)

The talented French pastry chef Philippe Conticini, known for his delicious Paris-Brest, opened a boutique in Kyoto, in the heart of a house wood (machiya). Located in the historic district of Higashiyama, along the Philosopher’s Path. You can’t miss the hot pink logo. Inside, the Patisserie’s trademark display of cases under large bell covers was an arresting sight. This was a surprise find! Strolling along Philosophy’s Path, I screamed out: OMG! when I first saw the bakery. What a joy as this was on my London Bucket list!! I ran in and before thinking, grabbed their famous Paris-Brest. I had the pastry the next day and it was still tasty. The first thing that will hit you upon opening the box is the strong praline fragrance. Very inviting! My Paris Brest toppled over during the course of the day so the top looks “off”. The triumphing element of the Paris Brest most definitely has to be the smooth and luscious whipped praline aided by even more liquid praline. The pastry shells were so moist and chewy. Well-executed and worthy of the hype!

Henri Charpentier
Location: Matsuya Ginza, 3 Chome-6-1 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo 104-8130, Japan
Pastry had: Mont Blanc Tart

As this was in Singapore (and majorly overpriced), this patisserie was not top of my list. But I couldn’t resist after seeing their rendition of the classic Mont Blanc in a tart form. An autumn special, the shell was made of three crispy caramelised puff pastry squares. The filling consisted of whole chestnuts embedded in a smooth and earthy chestnut mousse on top a thin chocolate sponge. While the pastry shells were terribly sweet with a hint of bitterness from an overbaked shell, the filling was thankfully less sweet and a great contrast to the shell. This was impressive if not for the messiness when cut into. 

La Boutique de Joël Robuchon
Location: boutique Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs, Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs B2F 2-21-1 Shibuya Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Pastries had: Mont Blanc Chocolate Brioche and Curry Bun

A Robouchon bakery?! I must be the last person on earth to find out. According to my gf who has visited his restaurant, Robouchon’s Brioche was to-die-for so I got a brioche consisting of my favourite flavours: chestnut and chocolate. It had my name written all over it. Plus a savoury curry bun. The texture of the chocolate brioche was indeed good! Tender yet springy, this was harmonized with the smooth chestnut mousse. The curry bun was a deep-fried beast! FILLED with vegetables in a thick curry sauce in a thin deep-fried bun, it was a heavy bun that would have been better if warmed up. However I really liked how the bun was so thin and filled with more than twice the amount of filling.

Yoroizuka Farm ヨロイヅカ ファーム トーキョー
Location: boutique Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs, Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs B2F 2-21-1 Shibuya Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Pastry had: Jean-Pierre (¥581)

Swiss-trained Chef Toshihiko Yoroizuka spent several years in Europe training in Switzerland, Germany, France and Belgium before returning to Japan, where he has two boutique cafes now have pastry chefs assembling seasonal desserts to order. I visited his take-away counter in Shibuya Hikarie. Called “Yoroizuka Farm Tokyo Branch”, I picked their No. 1 rated chocolate dome-like dessert: Jean Pierre consisting of pistachio crème brûlée and chocolate mousse. In the center of the dome-shaped chocolate mousse, there was another small dome of bright green pistachio crème brûlée. Underneath were nuts with chocolate and also pistachio sponge. On top of the cake, there are whipped cream with vanilla beans and two kinds of pistachio – one is just green and another is coated with crunchy sugar. A delightful and exquisite dainty little treat. The smooth and light chocolate mousse dome was a dream. Pistachio being my favourite nut provided an aromatic nutty fragrance. I regretted not trying his other creations but that will be for another trip. 😉  

Patisserie Sadaharu Aoki Paris
Location: boutique Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs, Shibuya Hikarie ShinQs B2F 2-21-1 Shibuya Shibuya-ku Tokyo
Pastries had: Salted Caramel Éclair and Green Tea Waffle filled with a Chocolate Macaron

Sadaharu Aoki is a Japanese chef patissier at the pâtisserie Sadaharu Aoki in Paris, France. He is known for using traditional Japanese ingredients and flavors in French-style pastries. His style is defined as a combination of minimalistic aesthetics with rigorous French techniques. Starting his career in France, the pastries are very influenced by the French pastries like croissants, macarons, and all that infused with the Japanese flavors. They are highly famous for their green tea croissant, assorted macarons, strawberry cakes & eclairs. The filling of the salted caramel eclair was just fantastic, it’s probably one of the yummiest éclair we’ve had too! The Green Tea Waffle filled with a macaron was very surprising! Like our very own Mr Bean pancake but more atas with more filling and the pillowy texture was addictive.

Hidemi Sugino
Location: 〒104-0031 Tokyo, Chuo 京橋3−6−17 京橋大栄ビル 1F +81 3353 86780 Opening hours: 11 AM – 7 PM (CLOSED ON MONDAYS) FACEBOOK
Pastries had: Ambroise アンブロワジー (760 yen), Diplomat, Larme, and one more I can’t remember.

Hidemi Sugino is one of the most popular as well as the finest patisserie in Tokyo as claimed by a lot of people. The small patisserie’s located somewhere in the alley of Ginza, and the queues are said to be legendary. Apparently, it opens at 11 AM but the queue can get very long at least 30 minutes before the opening hour and their cakes easily sold out one hour from the opening hour. Well we went at 11 plus am and there was no queue with a full display of dainty cakes. H.S. was quite frankly our second biggest disappointment to date.

For one thing, we managed to randomly pick four mousse cakes so they felt flat after a while without any texture. Plus they were surprisingly very alcoholic! In fact, I only enjoyed one: Larme, the Mont Blanc tear-shaped cake. The famed  Ambroise was one of the more complex creations consisting of a chocolate sponge cake base, followed by a layer of dark chocolate mousse, then raspberry jam, then pistachio cake and pistachio mousse, all enrobed in a layer of dark chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache glaze. The garnish is a small gold leaf on top, and four chocolate petals on the sides. While eating, all we could think of was mousse mousse and more mousse. The lack of pronounceable flavours was a killer too. The Diplomat was a vanilla custard pudding with dried fruits and alcohol. The fourth pastry was so alcoholic, I can’t be bothered to find out what it was. Hidemi Sugino – don’t get the hype. 

Shotani 京都大丸店
Location: Dahmau Kyoto
Pastry had:  Mont Blanc  (¥518)

Shotani’s rendition of the classic was a ribbon laced atop a thin sponge cake in a square paper cup. While the most chestnutty Mont Blanc we tried, it became overpowering. Without another distinctive element, this just got monotonous. Skip this bakery.   

  


Malebranche 京都 マールブランシュ 
Location: Daihmaru Kyoto
Pastries had: Mont Blanc Brain and Green tea Sponge Cake

Famous for their Cha No Ka Okoicha Langue De Chats, white chocolate sandwiched with thin green tea wafers, we were unimpressed by both pastries. The exterior of the unusual brain-like Mont Blanc was too gritty for our liking. The worst was the green tea square that was as dry as sandpaper and densed sponge so desperately craved moisture. Overall the Patisseries in Tokyo were off a higher standard.  

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L’Eclair De Genie レクレール・ドゥ・ジェニ
Location: Tokyo Nihonbashi Takashimaya B1
Pastries had: Mont Blanc, Sakura, Mascarpone and Choux Choux Caramel Éclair シュシュキャラメルエクレア (¥594)

This was our trip’s most eagerly anticipated pastry but the biggest disappointment of all. After seeing their gem-studded éclairs ALL over Instagram, my girlfriends and I literally ran to the counter and chose four éclairs between the three of us. Unfortunately at first bite, something just didn’t taste right. To our dismay, all the éclairs had a dry choux shell; they felt stale. Plus none of the flavours were rich or remotely close to flavoursome. They were just bland. When I told my foodie friends, they said I had gotten the wrong flavours but it was not the flavours that was the death-kneel. The shells of four randomly-chosen eclairs were poor. In my opinion, give this place a miss. Save your calories for much better ones like those listed above.

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